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Does Business Success Come From Practicing Good Ethics? How Businesses are Successful Due to What They Practice

Updated on October 20, 2015

I wish I could sit here and tell you that if you toe the line of legality, adhere perfectly to good ethics and care immensely about social responsibility, then you will be successful. Sadly, the business world isn't quite so cut-and-dry. Being the good guy doesn’t always equal success in business. Frankly, there really isn't any one thing that always equals business success. In an ideal world, companies that practice good business ethics would come out ahead, but that just isn't the way the world works.

We’re all familiar with unscrupulous businesses that profit despite their bad business practices. This is common in the corporate world, but this doesn’t make it right -- it also doesn't mean that it will work indefinitely, or that the business in question is experiencing its best possible success. Despite varied results, a solid business should always be built on a foundation of ethical practices.

Good Business Ethics and the Benefits of Practicing Them

Clearly, business should always follow tax law and wage regulations. Some laws are concrete and rigid; you don’t have a choice whether or not to follow them if you value your freedom and the privilege of owning or managing a company.

That said, there are a lot of areas that are not covered by law, but business owners should still consider which actions are right, not simply those that are not illegal . There can be grey areas, but you should do your best to do the right thing. Think your business is ethical? Here are a few areas where unethical practices can crop up disguised as "business as usual."

One of the most common unethical practices is businesses that mistreat or abuse their employees. This may be more widespread in larger businesses, but small businesses can be guilty of this too. Your employees are a valuable part of your business. Be sure to give them a fair wage and only ask them to do the work they will be paid for. If you force your employees to work unpaid overtime or do work that they were not hired for, you are abusing your employees. You may think these things will save the company money, but in the long run, these practices will only hurt your business. Employees will leave if they aren’t happy, and their negative attitude will permeate your business.

In some ways, your reputation is all you have as a business. Even though there are several larger corporations with bad reputations that still make money, but their bad reputation probably still negatively affects their profits. A small business will not be able to take any profit losses from a bad reputation. You can help to develop a positive reputation by maintaining good customer service, selling quality profits, and delivering on the promises you make to customers.

These are a few ways to practice ethical business practices, but there are a variety of things you can do to create a sustainable success and ethical business. I cannot list all of the methods here, but this is a general introduction to the topic.

I intentionally use the word “sustainable success” because I want to focus on long-term success. There are some bad business owners who are able to achieve a certain amount of success for a limited time, but it is inevitable that these unethical practices will catch up with them. After some time, these businesses will lose their employees and customers due to their unscrupulous methods. Large corporations will also experience this, but in most cases they are able to correct problem before it’s too late.

In general, I feel that a stable and sustainable business needs to behave in an ethical manner. This can be difficult at times, but the effort is certainly worth it. There are many factors that come into play as a business owner, but responsible business practices will help your business succeed in the long term. There will always be risks in the world of business, but you can give your business a better chance of success if you follow ethical business practices. If your business fails for some reason, at least you will know you tried to practice good business ethics.


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